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Madison Marshall

LAHRI Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Areas of expertise
Life-writing and (auto)biography; Victorian literature, culture and society; history of linguistics; intellectual and literary networks; assembled album scholarship; literary stylistics; epistolary writing; gendered ideology and the reception of women’s literary and critical writing in the mid-to-late nineteenth century; relations between historical-comparative linguistics and the natural sciences; Hensleigh Wedgwood; Julia Wedgwood.

Currently a LAHRI Postdoctoral Research Fellow, in April 2023 I was awarded my PhD in English Language and English Literature with Recognition of Research Excellence. Fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH), my doctoral research in the School of English at the University of Leeds was further supported by multiple competitive small awards. A particular highlight for me during the earliest stages of my research was securing support from Futures for Women (FfW) (a charity organisation established in 1859 by the suffragist Jessie Boucherett, which is now run by a panel of equally inspiring women). I previously graduated from the University of Sheffield with an MA by Research in Historical Language Studies (with Distinction) and a BA (Hons) in English Language with Linguistics. Awarded a Faculty of Arts postgraduate scholarship on the strength of my first-class undergraduate dissertation, I was ranked first place in my MA cohort with a straight run of first-class grades and the highest distinction awarded that year for a dissertation.

Framed within a wider discussion of the mid-to-late nineteenth-century Wedgwood-Darwin dynasty, my PhD thesis draws extensively on unpublished personal correspondence and material objects in the UNESCO-recognised archives of the V&A Wedgwood Collection. Contributing to the literature on Victorian social networks, father-daughter relationships in intellectual dynasties, nineteenth-century linguistics, Victorian ideals of masculinity and femininity, and the burgeoning field of assembled album scholarship, my thesis proceeds in two parts. Part One reframes the maligned relationship of the renowned philologist Hensleigh Wedgwood and his eldest daughter, the novelist, critical essayist, and public intellectual Julia 'Snow' Wedgwood. It defines three key stages of fatherhood negotiated by Hensleigh and demonstrates the ways in which Julia navigated Victorian womanhood as a female member of social networks dominated by male intellectual giants. In its exploration of the channelling and diffusion of intergenerational mentorship and familial collaboration, Part Two of my thesis establishes the significance of Hensleigh’s contributions to his cousin Charles Darwin’s thinking on the origin and evolution of language, and it illustrates Julia’s role in disseminating these ideas (

Prior to my PhD, I held the posts of Visiting Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Brighton and 0.5 Lecturer (and Associate Lecturer) in English Language at the University of Derby. Peer-nominated for the ‘Game Changer of the Year’ teaching award at Derby’s 2019 Celebration of Staff Excellence Awards, I lectured on the Joint Honours English degree programme, specialising in nineteenth-century drama, poetry, and prose. I was acting convenor for two undergraduate modules in sociolinguistics and literary stylistics, and I was Subject Leader for the Access English Language programme. More recently, I taught on modules in Victorian literature and English language at the University of Leeds, and I previously taught on a number of modules in my areas of expertise in the Department of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Sheffield.

After submitting my PhD thesis, I collaborated with the Nuclear and Caithness Archives on a project designed to increase public engagement with its extensive collections. I spent many hours immersed in historical documents and sound recordings relating to the Caithness dialect, the outcome of which was my authorial contribution in March 2023 to the online series Stories From The Archive (‘A Collection of Caithness Dialect: ‘From ‘brither-bairn’ to ‘shither’ ’, Stories From The Archive VIII, Nucleus: The Nuclear and Caithness Archives, Highlife Highland, My review of a recent Julia Wedgwood biography was also published in March 2023 (Review of S. Brown’s Julia Wedgwood, The Unexpected Victorian (London: Anthem Press, 2022), BAVS Newsletter, Spring 2023, 23.1, pp. 10-11,

While affiliated with the Philological Society of Great Britain, I was commissioned by Council Members to write a brief history of the Society for its website (‘History of the Philological Society: The Early Years’, My research into the Society’s early history led me to present a number of conference papers on some of its significant nineteenth-century players and it fuelled my ongoing interest in the Society’s first Honorary Treasurer Hensleigh Wedgwood. I also wrote a print article on the Society’s founder Edwin Guest, which has since been published by Taylor & Francis Online (‘Edwin Guest: Philologist, Historian, and Founder of the Philological Society of London’, Language & History, 2016, pp. 11-30,

I have presented my work at a number of international conferences and seminars, including an invited talk on the separation/synthesis of linguistics and philology for a meeting of the English Language Research Group at the University of Edinburgh and a plenary paper for the First Scandinavian PhD Conference at the University of Bergen in Norway. More recently, I presented a working paper on contribution and collaboration in the Wedgwood-Darwin network (WiP Seminar Series, Centre for History and Philosophy of Science, University of Leeds, 2022), an opening conference paper on epistolary self-creation (The Epistolary Research Network Conference, 2021), and a draft paper on the discursive production self and the staging of others in Julia Wedgwood’s ‘epistolary album’ (V&A Research Institute, Victoria & Albert Museum, 2021).

During my LAHRI postdoctoral fellowship, I intend to enhance my publication profile. I am revising several strands of my thesis for separate journal publications and a book chapter. I am also preparing a book proposal and sample material for review. Contributing to the Neo-Victorian inquiry that reads back current gender debates into their polemical nineteenth-century contexts, the proposed monograph is set to disrupt the parameters within which existing Victorian scholarship is defined by offering a sustained challenge to previous thinking about sexual politics, gender identity, intellectual influence, kinships, and father-daughter relationships. It will also invite readers to consider why nineteenth-century fiction is privileged as a form of intellectually-engaged women’s writing over other forms.